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Bible Study: Welcomed with open arms

NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Bible Studies for Life curriculum.

Bible Passages: Luke 15:11-14, 17-24

Discussion Questions:
— What has been your most memorable experience with being lost on an outing or a trip?
— When did you first recognize your need for God’s forgiveness of your sin?
— What does it look like for us to turn to God?

Food for Thought:

We’ve all lost something. We’ve lost our car keys; we’ve lost the remote control for the television, and we’ve lost our way in traveling to a destination. But lostness is far more common in another way; we’re all hopelessly lost in relation to God. We’re so lost, we can’t find our way back to God on our own. However, God did what we could never do. Through Christ, God opened the way for all who will repent and believe in Christ to return to Him.

In Luke 15, a young son thought he knew where he wanted to go. It was a destination framed with lavish living and focused around money. The good life awaited him. Or so he thought.

To those first hearing this parable, the son’s request for “the share of the estate I have coming to me” (v. 12) was a shocking request. He wasn’t entitled to any inheritance while his father still lived. This was like wishing his father were dead, so that he could have now what he thought he deserved.

His father graciously filled his request and gave the younger son his share. With his portion in hand, the younger son “gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country” (v. 13).

Those who’ve read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy are familiar with the phrase: “Not all who wander are lost.” It’s a nice sentiment for Hobbits, but when it comes to the whole of our lives, we don’t need to just wander through life. Without intent and purpose grounded in Christ, we do more than wander. We’re lost.

The younger son came to that very realization — he was lost. “He came to his senses” (v. 17). Ultimately, he determined to return home and seek work on his father’s land as a servant. But, when the father saw his son from a distance, it was as if he had been eagerly watching for him. He was filled with compassion.

His love for his prodigal son was so intense, he shed all fatherly dignity and ran to his son. For the wayward son, the shock of his father’s action could only be surpassed by his words. The father made it a celebration because the son he thought was dead had come home.

When we awaken from our sin and return to our Father, He is ready to welcome us with open arms. His welcome has nothing to do with any wealth, abilities or accomplishments we claim as assets. We’re as destitute as the prodigal son. At the same time, no amount of rebellion or sin in the “distant country” (Luke 15:13) diminishes the love and embrace of our heavenly Father. In Christ, we are offered forgiveness and new life.

Bible Studies for Life
Bible Studies for Life connects the Bible to life for adults, students and kids. Bible Studies for Life helps individuals and groups know God’s Word through trustworthy content, creates biblical community through engaging and conversational group studies, and helps people engage the culture missionally by unpacking what the Bible says about real-life issues. More information can be found on the internet at www.biblestudiesforlife.com.

Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool or ordered at LifeWay Christian Stores.

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  • Staff/Lifeway Christian Resources